Are Sardines Good For Dogs? Absolutely They’re Packed With Omega-3!

Are Sardines Good For Dogs?
Written by Graeme Hall

* Please note: Doggytastic is completely reader-supported. When you buy via the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Learn More >

Can your furry friend safely chomp down on some oily sardines? Sardines aren’t the first fish that dog owners think about feeding to their dogs but they should because they’re packed full of goodness that can actually be extremely beneficial to your dog.

So can dogs eat sardines? The answer is YES!

Although sardines are packed full of lean, healthy proteins and are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, there are some risks to feeding your dog sardines. However, the risks mainly come down to how the sardines are stored and where they come from, but shop-bought canned sardines are perfectly fine (but not all, more below) and are just as healthy as any other fish.

So now that you know that sardines for dogs are perfectly fine keep on reading to find out exactly why they are so beneficial for your dog, where is the best place to buy them, and how you can incorporate sardines into your dog’s diet effectively.

Benefits of Giving Sardines to Your Dog

Grey lab

To be honest, there are so many benefits that come with these oily fish I’m not sure where to start. However, I have done the legwork for you and filtered down the 5 best reasons why your pooch should start eating sardines – today!

1. Sardines Are An Excellent Source of Lean Protein

A healthy growing dog needs protein in their diet to help maintain their vitality, strength, and overall health. Even though dogs can survive on either an animal or plant diet if it’s balanced and diverse, they will thrive if their diet has a source of protein (meat).

Sardines are a high source of lean protein that makes for a great alternative to Beef, Chicken, or Pork; and more often than not cheaper too!

2. Eating Sardines Helps Your Dog Lose Weight

Today, dogs are fatter than ever, in fact, It’s now estimated that nearly 54% of all U.S. dogs are either obese or overweight. Swapping out Beef or Pork for lean Sardines could actually help your pooch shed a few pounds.

However, as with any food moderation is key and whether your dog will lose weight eating sardines does depend on the serving size and the number of calories in their overall diet. Sardines and fish in general also contain anti-inflammatory fatty acids, and obesity is an inflammatory disease after all.

3. Sardines Are Low In Saturated Fats

Just like people, having too much-saturated fat in a dog’s diet can be harmful to their health and they can quickly pile on the pounds.

Saturated fats found in other sources of proteins and foods can cause an increase in blood cholesterol concentrations in dogs. Sardines contain less saturated fats and in fact, are packed full of so-called “good fats” which will result in a happier and healthier dog!

4. Sardines Are Packed Full Of Nutrients Such As Omega-3 And Other Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential fatty acid that must be gained through the diet because they cannot be manufactured naturally by the body.Omega-3 fatty acids in your dog’s diet can be extremely beneficial and can aid in eye health, brain development in young puppies.

Omega-3’s can also help to manage inflammation in skin and joints along with an extensive list of other physiologic benefits. Just like we take fish oil supplements for the added health benefits fish oil for dogs shouldn’t be overlooked.

5. Sardines Are A Cheaper Alternative To Other Sources Of Protein

A tin of sardines doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, and typically you will find sardines a lot cheaper than Chicken, Beef, or Pork alternatives. So for those of you on a tight budget that still want to give your furry friend a healthy meal packed full of goodness a tin of sardines won’t break the bank and will provide your pet with all the nutrients they need to thrive!

Are There Any Risks To Feeding Your Dog Sardines?

Now you’re clued up on the benefits of giving your dog sardines you’ll probably want to know if there are any risks. Many dog lovers are concerned about the levels of mercury found in fish. Now, despite this being a slight concern, sardines actually contain a tiny amount of mercury compared to other types of fish.

Because sardines are small and have a relatively short lifespan, they don’t have enough time to ingest or absorb enough mercury for it to be a real health problem to dogs – and humans!

Dog lovers can also be concerned with the fish bones and are often hesitant to feed their dogs fish due to the choking hazard of the fish bones. Luckily enough this isn’t a problem with sardines. Sardines are a soft-boned fish and dogs will have no problem eating and digesting the subtle fish bones. Although with that said, it’s best to remove the larger backbone from the fish to be on the safe side.

If your dog hasn’t tried sardines before it’s best to introduce this oily fish into their diet slowly. Start off with a small piece to see how your dog reacts, even though most dogs love the taste of sardines some dogs can have allergies that only become known when they eat sardines for the first time so always air on the side of caution.

However, the good news is that most dogs that do react to sardines typically only have an upset stomach and a lingering fishy smell! It’s also worth pointing out that if your dog requires a low Purine diet, then sardines are not a good choice. If you’re unsure, it’s always best to research or ask your local veterinarian if sardines are a good option for your dog.

Can Dogs Eat Canned Sardines?

canned sardines

Yes, dogs can eat canned sardines – but, not all canned sardines are equal so make sure you’re giving your pooch the right kind. There are a lot of different varieties and not every type of canned sardines will be the best choice for your furry best friend!

When buying canned (tinned) sardines for your dog pay close attention to what you’re putting in your shopping basket. In particular, make sure to check the amount of salt or sodium inside the can and whether the contents are enriched with omega-6 and omega-3’s.

Best canned sardines for you dog should be:

  • Packed in Water
  • No added salt
  • Ideally wild caught

Try to avoid sardines that are packed in:

  • Brine
  • Corn oil
  • Soy oil
  • Ketchup
  • Other sauces!
  • Sunflower oil

How Many Sardines Should I Give My Dog?

Many dog owners struggle trying to work out exactly how many sardines to give their dogs. Hey, I hear you!

Below I have compiled a basic chart that gives you an idea of how much to give your dog based on your dog’s weight.

WeightCanned Sardines (4 oz)
5 lbs1/4 can per week
15 lbs1/2 can per week
25 lbs5/8 can per week
50 lbs1 can per week
100 lbs1 3/4 cans per week

As a rule of thumb, one small sardine is perfect for a dog that weighs roughly 20 pounds. If you’re using canned sardines, this is about half of a 3.75-ounce can.

For larger dogs to get the most health benefits from sardines, you must increase the amount. The chart above should give you a guideline for the best amount to give to your furry friend!

You can incorporate sardines into your dog’s diet about once or twice a week in addition to their regular dog food. But, be careful not to overfeed your dog as they might pile on the pounds. For example, a small sardine contains roughly 25 calories and 175mg of omega-3 fatty acids, so you need to adjust your dog’s diet accordingly to ensure that your dog stays in shape!

As a general rule, a 3.75 ounce can of sardines (in water) contains around 200 calories which are roughly equivalent to about half a cup of most store-bought dry dog foods.

Top Pick
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Fish Oil For Dogs – Are Supplements Okay?

The short answer is YES fish oil for dogs is okay – but, moderation is key! Supplements are as the name suggests “supplements” and should not be used as an alternative to getting real healthy oils directly from fish. Fish oil for dogs can significantly improve their joints, skin, coat, and aid in overall heart health.

Unlike fish oils found in fresh fish and sardines, fish oil supplements contain much more concentrated sources of two essential omega-3 fatty acids: EPA and DHA (or eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid).

The omega-3 fatty acid source also comes from other fish, not just sardines. Most of the best fish oil for dogs supplements contain essential omega-3 fatty acids straight from fish like herring, anchovies, salmon, black cod, albacore tuna, mackerel, and yes also sardines.

About the author

Graeme Hall

Graeme is the founder of Doggytastic! which is where he blogs about dog training, health, nutrition and anything else related to keeping a dog happy and healthy. Want to know a little bit more? Make sure to check out his full bio.

Leave a Comment